Does it work?: The case for conflict resolution education in our nation’s schools

In March, 2000, a gathering of educators, practitioners, and researchers took place in Washington DC in a research symposia sponsored by the United States Department of Education and convened by the Conflict Resolution Education Network. This group came to share their colective knowledge about CRE research, how the research is informing practice in the field of CRE, and what direction future research should take. This 155-page manuscript is a product of this gathering.
The chapter structure is as follows:
Chapter 1: Conflict Resolution Education in the U.S.
Chapter 2: Impact on Students: Conflict Resolution Education’s Proven Benefits for Students
Chapter 3: Impact on Educators: Conflict Resolution Education and the Evidence Regarding Educators
Chapter 4: Impact on Diverse Populations: How CRE Has Not Addressed the Needs of Diverse Populations
Chapter 5: Impact of CRE on School and Classroom Climate
Chapter 6: Conflict Resolution Education: Issues of Institutionalization
Chapter 7: Does It Work? Shared Insights and Future Directions

Recommended Guidelines for Effective Conflict Resolution Education Programs

These Recommended Guidelines for Effective Conflict Resolution Education Programs, released in 2002, are the product of work begun by a committee of the Conflict Resolution Education Network (CREnet) and completed by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). The Guidelines outline how elementary and secondary school teachers, administrators, conflict resolution education practitioners, and policy makers can measure progress toward effective conflict resolution education programs. By addressing core goals, components, content and qualities of effective school-based conflict resolution education programs, these Guidelines are intended to also help leaders to make decisions about the resources and strategies needed to support such educational programs in their schools.

A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools

Zero tolerance discipline policies that mandate suspension or expulsion of students for misconduct have gained tremendous momentum over the past 25 years while also inviting deep controversy. With A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice looks at existing research about whether zero tolerance discipline policies make schools more orderly or safe, if out-of-school suspension or expulsion leads to greater involvement in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and what effect these policies can have on a young person’s future. It concludes that, a generation after the rise of these policies and practices, neither schools nor young people have benefited. Fortunately, as described in the report, promising alternatives to zero tolerance can safely keep young people where they belong — in school.

Developing and Assessing School Culture: A New Level of Accountability for Schools

This 8-page CEP position paper argues that education in our nation is at a defining moment, one with the potential to reshape our national conversation about school improvement. Successful schools–ones that foster both academic excellence and ethics–have positive school cultures (or “climates”). CEP defines a positive school culture broadly to include all aspects of school life, including a safe and caring environment, a powerful pedagogy and curriculum, student motivation and engagement, professional faculty culture and relational trust, parent partnerships, and community collaboration. The paper presents case studies and educational research showing the impact of school culture on students’ academic achievement and social behavior. Because a positive school culture is central to student success, the authors argue we must address how to help all schools develop effective cultures. Since what gets measured matters, schools must also be held accountable for having positive school cultures and must have tools for assessing their culture. If we are to prepare students to be lifelong learners and 21st century ethical citizens, we must develop a new “school report card” that includes not only test scores but also concrete indicators of the quality of school culture.

Kit of Tools For Participatory Research and Evaluation with Children, Young People and Adults

Four countries in four regions where Save the Children Norway is working have participated in a Thematic Evaluation on Children’s Participation in armed conflict, post conflict and peace building – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guatemala, Nepal and Uganda. The research tools developed and used in this project are contained in this ‘kit’ which has been developed collaboratively by the global researchers and the four country teams. It has been enriched, adapted and expanded by contributions from the children, young people and adults. For each tool the objectives are explained, the time and materials needed, key steps to be taken and facilitators notes. There is also a section where users have made their comments on the usefulness, or otherwise, of the tool.

Assessment toolkit for bullying, harassment and peer relations at school

170-page pdf “designed for teachers, school administrators, and ministries of education… Developed in partnership with the Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying (National Crime Prevention Strategy), this free kit provides a standard way to measure the nature and prevalence of school peer relationship problems, standards for quality programs, and a common set of tools to assess the impact of school-based programs. From a public health perspective, it provides an overview of what works and what doesn’t, foundations for best practice standards, and outlines the core school components. CPHA’s toolkit includes tips for students, parents, teachers and administrators in the form of a handout and checklist that can be posted on the fridge at home, in the student’s desk and on the chalkboard at school.”

Learning to live together: Building skills, values and attitudes for the 21st Century

167-page pdf study which, “represents an attempt to interpret the aim of ‘learning to live together’ as a synthesis of many related goals, such as education for peace, human rights, citizenship and health-preserving behaviours. It focuses specifically on the skills, values, attitudes and concepts needed for learning to live together, rather than on ‘knowledge’ objectives. The aim of the study is to discover ‘what works’ in terms of helping students learn to become politely assertive rather than violent, to understand conflict and its prevention, to become mediators, to respect human rights, to become active and responsible members of their communities—as local, national and global citizens, to have balanced relationships with others and neither to coerce others nor be coerced, especially into risky health behaviours … The recommendation emerging from the study for national policy-makers and curriculum specialists is that a core national team of educators committed to the goals of peace-building, human rights, active citizenship and preventive health should be created, in order to put together and pilot test materials and methodologies related to these goals.”

Positive impact of social and emotional learning kindergarten to eighth grade students, The

51-page PDF technical report which, “summarizes results from three large-scale reviews of research on the impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs on elementary and middle-school students — that is, programs that seek to promote various aocial and emotional skills. Collectively the three reviews included 317 studies and involved 324,303 children. SEL programs yielded multiple benefits in each review and were effective in both school and after-school settings and for students with and without behavioral and emotional problems. They were also effective across the K-8 grade range and for racially and ethnically diverse students from urban, rural, and suburban settings. SEL programs improved students’ social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, positive social behavior, and academic performance; they also reduced students’ conduct problems and emotional distress. Comparing results from these reviews to findings obtained in reviews of interventions by other research teams suggests that SEL programs are among the most successful youth-development programs offered to school-age youth. Furthermore, school staff (e.g., teachers, student support staff) carried out SEL programs effectively, indicating that they can be incorporated into routine educational practice. In addition, SEL programming improved students’ academic performance by 11 to 17 percentile points across the three reviews, indicating that they offer students a practical educational benefit. Given these positive findings, we recommend that federal, state, and local policies and practices encourage the broad implementation of well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs during and after school.”

Conflict resolution, peer mediation and young people’s relationships: Technical Report

74-page PDF technical report that investigated, “what schools could do to improve young people’s relationships with each other, with teachers and with their families. This is a key question for schools, policy-makers and pressure groups; there are currently programmes and initiatives on behaviour, citizenship, healthy schools and many other areas which have relationships at their core. Within that broad area, the team looked in more detail at school programmes that encourage conflict resolution and peer mediation.” Ten studies relating to conflict resolution, all completed after 1994, were reviewed in detail.

Challenge to create a safer learning environment for youth, The

83-page PDF report which continues the author’s “exploration of how violence affects learning and my search for effective approaches to support learning for those who have experienced violence … I sought to learn more about how violence affects learning by interviewing young people who are currently struggling with learning, either within or outside the school system. I wanted to explore how responses to trauma support or limit learning possibilities by interviewing young people and professionals engaged in the school system and in other education for youth.”

Impact of violence on learning for youth: What can we do?

35-page PDF report that focuses “on the words of the interviewees, particularly the youth—both in school and out of school—and what they tell educators and others working in educational programs about what we can do to support learning.” In writing the report the author wanted to understand “how violence affects learning, and to examine how school responses played a part in creating this picture. Most importantly I wanted to look for ways to strengthen the possibilities of supporting learning for youth in high schools and in youth literacy and training programs.”

Evaluation report on progress made through the OSCE’s efforts to unify the Gymnasium Mostar: Summer

51-page PDF evaluation “of the unification of the Gymnasium Mostar in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as commissioned by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to BiH … the Gymnasium Mostar was an historic and premier secondary school prior to the war of 1992-1995. It was completely destroyed during the war and had become the centre of an effort to revitalize the historic Mostar downtown. An initiative to restore the multinational and high-quality nature of the school was viewed as an opportunity to use this divided school in this divided city as a model or beacon for potential reform efforts throughout the country.”

Evaluation report on progress made through the OSCE’s efforts to unify the Gymnasium Mostar: Summer

51-page Word evaluation “of the unification of the Gymnasium Mostar in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as commissioned by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to BiH … the Gymnasium Mostar was an historic and premier secondary school prior to the war of 1992-1995. It was completely destroyed during the war and had become the centre of an effort to revitalize the historic Mostar downtown. An initiative to restore the multinational and high-quality nature of the school was viewed as an opportunity to use this divided school in this divided city as a model or beacon for potential reform efforts throughout the country.”

Evaluation report: Life skills project implementation in the Armenian education system

45-page PDF report which
“represents an evaluation of implementation of the Life Skills Project being conducted in the Armenian education system as [a] component of an overall effort in education reform … the project was piloted in the first and fifth grades in 16 schools in 1999-2000. In 2000-2001 the project was expanded to 100 schools and to the second and sixth grades. UNICEF provided funding and some logistical support and the MOES provided administrative and logistical project support and workspace for the curriculum development team.”